Carnegie Mellon University

We are now offering limited video tutoring appointments for cover letters and other job application materials. Students are also encouraged to watch this video summarizing our most common advice and to seek support from the CPDC. Please note that we are unable to offer job application sessions via Zoom at this time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about an appointment or our other services? We may have the answer for you right here! If not, feel free to contact us

Our appointments page has basic information to get you started. More detailed information is below.

How do I fill out the appointment form?

  1. Go to the online scheduler.
  2. Next, click on the type of appointment you would like to have. Currently, our options are Zoom appointments and recorded video feedback appointments.
  3. You will then be asked to choose what type of material you are working on. Examples include "Applications" or "Oral Presentations." If you are not sure what category is most appropriate, choose the one you think is closest. If you are unsure whether we can help with what you're working on, please email us at gcc-cmu@andrew.cmu.edu.
  4. Select "Choose by time" to see all available appointments, or select a tutor's name to see their availability.
  5. Finally, answer the rest of the questions on the form, making sure to be specific about your goals for the session. You may upload any documents at this time, or you may upload them later from the link in your confirmation email (as long as they are uploaded 3 hours before your appointment start time).

I don't see any available appointments that fit into my schedule. Do you have a waitlist?

Yes! Add yourself to the waitlist here.

What if I have to cancel my appointment?

Canceling your appointment is fine. Please cancel your appointment on the scheduler, or through the confirmation email you received from us. If you encounter difficulty, you can always email us at gcc-cmu@andrew.cmu.edu.

Please cancel your appointment at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time.  If you do not show up without canceling your appointment, this will be counted as a no-show. After two no-shows, students will be blocked from scheduling further appointments until they talk to the Director of Communication Support.

Can I come late to my appointment?

No, students cannot come late to an appointment. It is important to us that we serve as many students as possible. When students show up late to an appointment, it is misusing the tutor's time and resources as well as taking that appointment away from other students. If you know you will be late when scheduling an appointment, please schedule during a time period where you are available for 50 minutes.

Students who arrive over 15 minutes late to an appointment will be marked as having a no-show. After two no-shows, students will be blocked from scheduling further appointments until they talk to the Director of Communication Support.

I am not a student. Can I make an appointment?

Faculty and staff are welcome to make same-day appointments (scheduled after 8:00 am one the day of the appointment). As always, please email us at gcc-cmu@andrew.cmu.edu if you have any questions.

Will you review work that is not part of a classroom assignment?

Yes, we can review work that is not part of a classroom assignment, including personal statements, application letters, journal articles, grant proposals and conference papers.

Can you review a piece of writing that is not my own?

While we understand that your friends or colleagues may be unable to make a Communication Support appointment on their own, we will not review a piece of writing if it is not written by the individual who made the appointment.

Can I make a walk-in appointment?

We welcome walk-in appointments as long as we have openings available! Please note that our tutors need at least 15 minutes to prepare for your session.  If you walk in, we will help you create the appointment on our scheduler so that you can upload materials pertaining to your project.  These materials will provide information for our records and will ensure that you receive follow-up emails describing what was covered in the session and providing advice for your next steps.  You are welcome to get a cup of coffee, check your email, or do other work while you wait for your tutor to prepare. Walk-ins should plan to spend at least 70 minutes in the GCC, uploading information, waiting for their tutor to prepare, and participating in the 50-minute tutoring session.

Check our schedule

Can I make an appointment for advice on how to manage a team project or how to communicate with my team members?

Yes. Since not all of our tutors have expertise in team communication, email us at gcc-cmu@andrew.cmu.edu to arrange an appointment to talk about team communication.

We also offer group tutoring appointments for groups who want to work on a project together. Simply select "Team Projects" on our scheduler and fill out the appointment form to reserve one. We ask you to please book these kinds of appointments at least 24 hours in advance of your session, in order to secure the best space for your group. 

How do I attach my draft to my appointment form?

You can attach your documents in the appointment form's second section, "Your Information." Near the bottom of the form, there are buttons to upload up to two documents you wish to workshop, along with buttons for any rubrics, prompts, and model essays, if they are necessary to include. There is a 5MB file size limit for each upload. 

Shows how to upload a draft

You don't have to upload your documents right away. If you are still working on your draft, you can select "I will attach it later" when prompted (as shown above). You can upload documents no later than two hours before your session's scheduled start time by registering for an account on our scheduler and logging in, or by clicking on the link in your confirmation email.

If you experience any difficulty in attaching documents to your appointment -- or if your documents exceed our scheduler's upload file size limit -- please email us at gcc-cmu@andrew.cmu.edu.

Why do I need to attach my draft 3 hours before the session?

The tutor spends time preparing for your session prior to your arrival. During this time, the tutor becomes acquainted with your work and negotiates it with the other submitted documents (prompt, rubric, and/or sample essays). Submitting your draft ahead of time ensures that your session is as beneficial and productive as possible.
    *Please note: If you fail to submit your draft at least 3 hours ahead of time, the tutor will need to allot 15 minutes at the beginning of your session to prepare. Therefore, your session time will not be the full 50 minutes.*

Should I attach the instructor’s prompt and rubric?

Absolutely! Attaching the prompt allows the tutor to read and interpret the instructor’s expectations of the assignment. This gives the tutor an understanding of the purpose of the paper, its specific requirements (such as page length, citation method, etc.) what concepts it should include, and/or what questions it should answer. Attaching the rubric allows the tutor to see the instructor’s grading procedure and on what criteria the assignment will be judged, which helps them understand what aspects of your assignment are important to focus on.

What is a model essay?

A model essay is a paper that has satisfactorily fulfilled the requirements of an assignment. Ask your professor for an example of a paper that they consider an effective response to a prompt. If your professor is unable to provide a model essay, writing center websites at many colleges and universities often provide examples of papers written in certain disciplines.

Can I make an appointment even if I don't have a written draft to attach?

Yes! Our tutors can help you during any stage of the writing process, including brainstorming and prewriting. This means that you can come in with just the ideas in your head and use the session time as an opportunity to “talk it out” with a tutor. Research shows that effective planning can be just as important to the writing process as the actual drafting! Please note that recorded video feedback appointments are not appropriate for the brainstorming stage.

Where can I join the Zoom meeting for my appointment?

The Zoom Meeting ID for your appointment appears next to your tutor's name in your confirmation email.

Once all parties are connected, the session should proceed similar to a face-to-face meeting. Remember to check your camera and microphone settings to ensure the most seamless experience.

You also have the ability to share your screen with your tutor. To do this, click on the "Share" icon in the center of the bottom toolbar. 

Any student at CMU can schedule an appointment. Each session is 50 minutes long, and tailored to meet the needs expressed by the client. Our tutors allow the last 5-10 minutes to be spent on drafting a revision plan. This revision plan is made in response to the information covered in the session and serves as a pointed guide to help implement effective, personalized strategies in the subsequent stages of the writing process. You will receive a PDF copy of this revision plan after your session has ended.

For detailed instructions about scheduling an appointment, please see the question "Making Your Appointment" on this page, or visit the Make or Modify an Appointment page.

After scheduling an appointment, and uploading any drafts and assignment prompts three hours before your appointment time, you can expect the following:

  • A 50 minute personalized consultation with a trained GCC consultant: 
    • Your GCC consultant will go over the agenda with you at the beginning of your session to make sure they address your concerns (which you should define in the "communication goals" question when booking your appointment). In most cases, the consultant will prioritize specific sections of your project that need the most attention, especially if you have a particularly lengthy project. 
    • You and your consultant will discuss the project. They will ask questions to make sure the advice they give you is the best advice possible.
    • Your GCC consultant will suggest revisions, give instruction, and explain principles that will improve your overall communication skills and your project.
    • The primary goal of your appointment is to clarify your ideas and arguments. Once those are clearly defined, your consultant can then help you focus on more detailed concerns like word choice.  
    • You and your consultant will take 5-10 minutes to recap what you've discussed during the session, and create a revision plan.
    • You will be emailed a session report which will contain your revision plan and other topics discussed in your session after it has ended.

Is there a maximum number of appointments I can make?

We encourage students to make appointments that they will realistically attend, so as not to deprive others of the opportunity to schedule appointments. 

Our availability limits students to 1 appointment per day, 2 appointments per week, and 15 appointments per semester so that we can serve as many students as possible. All kinds of appointments (video, virtual, and in-person) count toward this limit. Students with questions or concerns should email us at gcc-cmu@andrew.cmu.edu.

Along with this, each individual is allowed to have only one user account with us on our online scheduler.

What is your policy on grammar and proofreading?

As our sessions are interactive and learning-based, we believe that we can best serve our clients if we focus on the clarity of their ideas, arguments, and research contributions. Sometimes this involves grammatical issues, but often it is a matter of understanding the conventions and principles of academic writing. We are confident that focusing on such learnable principles will make a greater impact on writing than focusing on correctness. The English language is extremely complex, and many rules can only be acquired through repeated practice and years of immersion – not a 50-minute session! Thus, editing for minor grammar errors, which do not interfere with reader comprehension, is not as fundamental as revising the logic and clarity of the text.

However, we can help you gain grammatical knowledge. Clients seeking to improve their grammar often make several sessions for the same document to first resolve any high-level issues, then to address sentence-level issues. We're proud of our work, but please do not assume you'll leave your first session with a grammatically flawless paper!

What is considered a communication project?

Communication simply means to convey an idea to someone else, so a "communication project" is anything that delivers an idea to someone else - for example: a written paper or memo, visual poster or PowerPoint, or an oral presentation or speech. Since we equip our clients with learnable principles, we're not limited to specific project types. Your project does not have to be related to coursework - if it's communication-based, chances are, we can help.

Please note that due to high demand, we are no longer able to work with students on resumes, cover letters, and other job application materials. 

For more specific examples, please visit the page that most appropriately describes your status at CMU: 

Undergrad Students   Grad Students   Faculty or Staff

I am not a student. Can I make an appointment?

Alumni, visiting scholars, faculty, and staff are all welcome to use our services but have to make same-day appointments. A "same-day appointment" means that you can schedule your appointment after 8:00 am on the same day you wish to come in. Our funding is primarily for undergraduate and graduate students, so this allows students to have priority in our schedule. 

For more information on specific services for you, click the links below: 

Undergrad Students    Grad Students   Faculty, Staff and Alumni

What workshops do you offer?

We routinely offer workshops on a variety of communication topics, including Designing Effective PowerPoint presentations, Team Communication, Designing Scientific Posters, and Email Communication.  Other workshops we have given include Writing Literature Reviews, Preparing Grant Proposals, Writing about Data, and Gender and Communication.  Find out more about our workshops by visiting our Workshops page.

How can I receive notifications of upcoming workshops?

If you create an account on our appointment server and opt to receive email notifications, you will be added to our email distribution list.  We send emails approximately every 2-3 weeks during the semester with notifications about new workshops and opportunities.  You can also keep posted of upcoming events by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.

How can I request a workshop for my class, department or group?

All external workshop requests are handled centrally through the Student Academic Success Center. If you have a group with need for a particular workshop (for instance, students in your department would like advice on preparing research posters for an upcoming conference), or if you are an instructor who would like to have a workshop during your class time, contact Emma Flickinger at eflickin@andrew.cmu.edu.

I am interested in becoming a consultant for Communication Support. How do I apply?

We hire tutors in the spring semester for the following academic year.  All of our tutors must take an intensive, semester-long practicum on tutoring (9 units) that is only offered in the Fall semester. (One exception: Ph.D. students with previous experience teaching writing can petition to instead take a 6 unit independent study on tutoring.)  Most of our tutors work 5-10 hours per week.  If you are interested in tutoring and are available to take the tutoring practicum in the Fall, send an email expressing your interest to gcc-cmu@andrew.cmu.edu.  We will contact you with our application procedures when we begin the application cycle in early March.

Where are you located on campus?

The Student Academic Success Center is located on the first floor of Posner Hall. If you enter from the Margaret Morrison parking lot, you will be on the ground floor, and you will need to take either the elevator or the stairs (located just inside the entrance on either side of the door) up one floor. You can check in for your appointment at the Student Academic Success Center reception desk at the front of the building.

How do I contact Communication Support?

Our contact page has all the details!

"My tutor was super helpful and thorough. I had been dealing with a mental block for a few days and they helped me work through this and gave me good next steps."

Graduate student, Computer Science

Hear from our other clients